SFU’s Active Health Program wins international award
By Wan Yee Lok
Simon Fraser University’s Active Health Program has received the 2017 Best Practices Award in College Health from the American College Health Association (ACHA). The award acknowledges the program’s excellence and innovation in college health clinical services.
An interdisciplinary collaboration between SFU Health and Counselling Services (HCS) and SFU Recreation, the Active Health Program offers students with moderate to severe depression and anxiety an option to supplement their treatment with exercise.
“There is a lot of research out there that shows exercise can have a very positive clinical impact on mental health,” says Tammy Nazaruk, manager of SFU Clinical Health Service and a co-founder of the Active Health Program.
“Collaborating with our campus partners to leverage existing resources and innovate better care for our students is a big win for everyone involved.”
Students placed in the Active Health Program are partnered with certified SFU personal trainers, and participate in physical activity with a cardio component specifically designed for them. The students also have regular visits with a mental health nurse and a physician who provide support and monitor progress.
More than 90 students have benefitted from the Active Health Program since its inception in 2014. Participants report reduced depression and increased fitness levels following the program.
Nazaruk says there has been a significant increase in students diagnosed with depression and or anxiety in recent years.
In 2016, HCS participated in the National College Health Assessment survey, which involved more than 1,000 SFU students. In the survey, 15.7 per cent of students reported being diagnosed or treated by a professional for anxiety, while 12 per cent reported being diagnosed or treated for depression.